Thank you God that I am not like the Pharisee
Partly inspired by the video that I posted yesterday.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
A lot of us will read this parable and be pleased to decide that we are not like the Pharisee but rather we, perhaps, feel more like the tax collector. We may then look around ourselves and decide that we see modern-day Pharisees, look where the church is getting it wrong! Isn’t it awful, thank goodness we are not like that, that the way we do things is different. But what if, in this, we become the tax collector who, instead of entering the temple and asking for mercy, thanks God that he isn’t like the Pharisee. Does the parable still work? Is this what God intended? Or worse, what if, in taking this view, we become the Pharisee.
It’s difficult, and some of our issues will come from a place where we can see that things are wrong, that injustice is being done and love and mercy are lacking. Maybe there is a line somewhere that can be drawn. Maybe it isn’t wrong to take issue with things that we see going on that are wrong and even to criticise it – I mean Christ didn’t seem to hot on the religious structures in his day. But we need to do so from a place of humility, in recognition of our own down-fallings, rather then exalting ourselves. Trying not to demonise others.
It seems to me to be a grey area. Does anyone have any greater wisdom to offer?